Tag Archives: African Buffalo

Summertide Rambles 3 January 2021

Sadly that horrible day arrived when we had to depart for home. Thankfully Mountain Zebra National Park sent a delegation of buffalo to wish us well on our journey as we reached the Park’s gate this morning.

A day in Pilanesberg: Hour 6

We’re still on a high from our sighting of Rain the cheetah and her cubs when we turn from Nare Link into Sefara Drive in the Pilanesberg National Park, following the road uphill. Before we even crest the rise we become aware of the sound of thundering hooves moving at speed…

Buffaloes!”

The Park’s buffaloes are so seldomly seen that they’re known as the “ghosts of the Pilanesberg”, and any encounter with them is a thrilling treat. Even more so these particular buffaloes, as they are in quite a rush to get away as quickly as possible, allowing only a few photos as they run past us, thankfully without smashing into our vehicle. Was it us who scared them?

As the buffaloes stampede down into the valley, we get back our composure and drive on. We don’t get very far however before Joubert yells out, again, “Lions!” Could it really be our third lion sighting of the morning!?

Indeed, there obscured behind some twigs and branches, are a pride of 5 lions wrestling with a buffalo cow on the ground! Now the stampeding herd of buffaloes we saw half-a-minute ago makes perfect sense!

As the bellowing of the cow dies down, no longer to be heard above the sound of raindrops on the car’s roof, and her feverish kicking stops, it’s clear that the fight is all over. In the excitement it takes a while for me to figure out that if I drive past the scene we’d have a much clearer view of it looking back. Just as the feeding starts one of the younger lionesses gets up and walks off, presumably to collect the pride’s cubs to join the feast. While we wait almost an hour for her to return, she doesn’t, so the cubs must’ve been quite some distance away. In the meantime the sights and sounds of the lions tearing the buffalo cow open and apart is as bone-chilling as you can imagine.

And to think we’re only half-way through our day in the Pilanesberg!

If you’d like to follow along as we explore the Pilanesberg, a map may come in handy (for a large format version click here)

Scene where we saw the buffaloes and lions on Sefara Drive

If you need to catch up on our drive through the Pilanesberg National Park, you can read all the previous posts here.

To be continued tomorrow.

Muddy fun at Dries se Gat

“Dries se Gat” is one of our favourite waterholes in Mokala National Park, not only because I share a name with it but also because there always seem to be something interesting happening there.

During our latest visit to Mokala we arrived at the waterhole just as a big herd of 100+ buffaloes were making their way to the water, and could spend quite a bit of time watching the animals interact with each other while slaking their thirst and enjoying a mud bath.

If you’d like to learn more about Mokala National Park, why not have a read through the detailed post we did about the Park in 2016.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Giants

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is home to giants; behemoths that can cause the earth to tremble with every step. And they’re not shy about showing themselves either, as we found out again during our visit in December.

Buffaloes were in evidence throughout the Park, whether as lone bulls, in small bachelor groups or in huge herds.

We could never tire of seeing elephants!

The curious giraffes tower over everything else in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, except the magnificent scenery…

It is thanks to Hluhluwe Imfolozi that we can still see the Southern White Rhino in the wild today.

We didn’t get to see the hippos on this trip, and only managed two quick sightings of black rhinos that were too fleeting for photos, but still, these galleries should be proof enough that giants still roam Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

hip-white-rhino-and-buffaloes

Searching for Buffalo

Probably due to the prevailing drought, we encountered very few buffalo in the five days we spent around Satara during our winter visit to the Kruger National Park. However, that all changed when we moved northwards to Mopani, where better winter grazing seems to have attracted even more of the huge herds of these bulky beasts than we would normally have expected to see in that region.

Careful

Careful now, that’s quite close enough!

Buffalo

Buffalo

This buffalo, seen at Pafuri in Kruger National Park, made it abundantly clear that we shouldn’t venture any closer…

Careful” is the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge

Sunset, dust and buffaloes

Late this afternoon we encountered a massive herd of buffalo, making their way one-by-one, along a sandy ridge, out of the bed of the Mphongolo River. The climb was clearly tough on many of the animals, and the dust rising into the glaring sunlight added nicely to the fatigued feeling of the scene unfolding before us.

African Buffalo

The pugnacious African buffalo, Africa’s only extant species of wild cattle, is a worthy member of the elite “Big-5” group of animals. Though they can appear very docile, buffalo are extremely dangerous, especially when threatened or wounded; they’ve even been known to circle back around hunters tracking them to launch unexpected attacks on their persecutors from behind.

You wouldn't want to find yourself on foot in thick vegetation like this when buffalo are around...

You wouldn’t want to find yourself on foot in thick vegetation like this when buffalo are around…

These bulky animals weigh in between 500 and 900kg, with adult bulls being much larger than the cows.

African buffalo inhabit a wide range of habitats, ranging from open grassy plains to dense rainforest, their most important requirements being an ample supply of fresh grazing, regular access to drinking water, and cover in which to evade (or ambush) predators.

Buffalo are gregarious animals, congregating in herds that may number into the thousands. Encountering one of these huge herds is among Africa’s most memorable experiences.

Old bulls that cannot keep up with the breeding herds become loners or join “bachelor” groups. It is these old “dagga boys” that have the worse reputation of being overly aggressive and extremely dangerous, probably due to being easier targets for hunters and predators than members of the well-protected herds where there’s safety in numbers.

Calves are normally born during the rainy season, and can keep up with their maternal herds within hours of birth. Buffalo of all ages are a favourite prey of lions, and large herds are often followed by prides of lion that specialise in taking down these powerful animals, despite the good chance that they’ll pay with their lives for their boldness. Buffalo are also susceptible to a wide range of diseases and parasites, and have a natural life expectancy of between 15 and 30 years.

Today, the buffalo remains one of Africa’s most numerous game species, with the IUCN estimating that a population of around 830,000 roam the continent, despite the pressures of hunting and habitat loss. In South Africa, large populations can be found in the Kruger National Park, Addo Elephant Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Be afraid, be very afraid...

Be afraid, be very afraid…